World's largest steam locomotive draws large crowds in Chicago area

Saturday, July 27, 2019
World's largest steam locomotive draws large crowds in Chicago area
Enthusiasts can come see the world's largest steam locomotive, "Big Boy," up close in West Chicago all weekend.

WEST CHICAGO, Ill. (WLS) -- The world's largest steam-powered locomotive is rolling its way through Chicago's suburbs, and drawing large crowds everywhere it goes.

It's called the "Big Boy," and it's trekking "The Great Race Across the Midwest."

Enthusiasts can come see the locomotive up close all weekend in West Chicago.

The world's largest steam locomotive traveled through Chicago to honor the 150 year anniversary of the First Transcontinental Railroad, which forever changed American commerce, travel and communication.

It's just one of 25 steam engines built by Union Pacific in the 1940s. The "Big Boy" weighs in at 1.2 million pounds and is 133 feet long.

"This is a living exhibit of American history and machinery and it is just awesome to see," said Chris Goebel.

The world's largest steam locomotive is coming through the Chicago area tomorrow. And if you're close enough, you'll feel it coming.

The last time a "Big Boy" locomotive was in operation was 60 years ago.

"I wish my mother was here to see it," said Regina Smith. "I am sure she remembered these from the '40s."

After departing from Butler, Wis., at 8 a.m., the train traveled through Wadsworth, Northbrook, Des Plaines, Elmhurst, and Wheaton and before ending up in West Chicago Friday afternoon, where it will be on display this weekend.

"Railroads, they're just this modern big network, but they are operating behind the scenes, kind of in the background of our lives and we don't really realize the vital role that railroad play," said Ed Dickens, locomotive engineer.

The Union Pacific is celebrating 150 years since the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Park Ridge resident Bob Halston, 92, said he could feel the machine's power.

"It almost blew me off this chair," he said.

Halston made the event a family affair.

"My dad was always a rail fan," said St. Charles resident Mike Halston, Bob Halston's son. "He would chase trains, when we were kids he would bring us out. So this time, we brought him out."

Some people said they took time off from work to come get a glimpse of this big piece of history.

You can track the steam locomotive as it moves through the Midwest by clicking here.